New Brunswick

Noisy metal recycler belongs away from Saint John port, MLA says

Saint John residents would be better served if a scrap-metal recycling plant is moved from its home at the port to an industrial area on the outskirts of the city, according to a local MLA and former city councillor.

AIM has disturbed residents with more than 40 explosions in the past 16 months

American Iron and Metal's Saint John recycling operation is located on leased port land, outside municipal jurisdiction. (Julia Wright, CBC)

Saint John residents would be better served if a scrap-metal recycling plant is moved from its home at the port to an industrial area on the outskirts of the city, according to a local MLA and former city councillor.

"It would be great if somehow we could pick it up and place it down in Lorneville," said Gerry Lowe, the Liberal MLA for Saint John Harbour.

If only it were that simple, he said.

More than 40 explosions have been been reported in the past 16 months at American Iron and Metal Inc. The blasts have rattled houses on both sides of the harbour and disturbed residents from his old ward whom he now represents in the provincial legislature.

Lowe, who lives near the port in uptown Saint John, said he's heard and felt the blasts, including the most recent one on Monday morning.

"It rattled the window," he told Information Morning Saint John. "They're loud. There's no two ways about it."

American Iron and Metal plant on the city's west side has had more than 40 explosions over the last two years. The most recent one happened yesterday. It's the port's responsibility to enforce the rules on the federal property. Gerry Lowe is the MLA for Saint John Harbour. 6:04

The AIM site manager, Kevin Hughes, has said it wasn't an explosion but a "blast of pressure."

Lowe said he would hate to see the operation leave the city because of the taxes it generates through the port, which is the leaseholder of the land, and the 40 to 50 workers AIM employs.

"But I think it's in the wrong place," he said.

The west side port borders the densely populated lower-west side neighbourhoods.

Moving the operation to, say, the industrial area in Lorneville, about 15 kilometres west of the port, would require co-operation from the company and the province, he said.

Saint John Harbour MLA Gerry Lowe says he witnessed an explosion from his home on Robertson's Wharf. (Connell Smith)

The city has no authority over the operations because they're on port land. AIM need only satisfy the terms of its port lease and its provincial "approval to operate."

Lowe said he read the approval document and believes AIM isn't fulfilling its end of the conditional agreement, particularly in terms of limiting noise.

Saint John Mayor Don Darling said Monday that the minister of environment is authorized to cancel the approval to operate and issue a new approval with terms and conditions, as deemed necessary, if the environmental impacts of the operation are unacceptable.

AIM's two-year permit expires June 1, 2019.

- With files from Information Morning Saint John, Julia Wright and Connell Smith

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